REVIEW: Everybody's Talking About Jamie at Birmingham HIppodrome

Everyone loves a good musical theatre soundtrack and, when you’re humming the songs on the way out of the auditorium you know you’ve enjoyed the show. When you’re still full-on belting them when you pull on the drive…that’s when you know you’ve had a night like no other.

Cue Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

Jamie is coming-of-age stage musical with music by The Feeling frontman, Dan Gillespie Sells and book and lyrics by Tom MacRae. The show is inspired by the 2011 television documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 and follows a teenager as he overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness to become a drag queen.

Having debuted in the West End in 2017, I first saw Jamie a few years ago and, it's fair to say, I developed an obsession. Straight out of the box, this show is a prime example of the best of British theatre. The book, soundtrack and visuals are all exquisite and the show has fast become a cult phenomenon. 

All of the above comes mixed with a solid chunk of Northern charm and wit and a story which resonates so poignantly with a cross-section of society. It’s hilarious, heart-wrenching, sassy and an exquisite example of the quality of new musicals we produce in Britain.

The actor who takes on the role of Jamie has a non-stop couple of hours, barely leaving the stage from the opening number. Ivano Turco is the fourth actor to don the blue blazer and is a stellar example of what a leading man should be. He embodies Jamie New and his chemistry with the character shines through - but without complacency. Turco isn’t going through the motions, he’s giving us full-frontal sass and the audience love him for it.

Rebecca McKinnis blew the audience away with her portrayal of Jamie’s mum, Margaret. Josie Walker originated the role in London and, night after night was well know for bringing the audience to tears. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Margaret, but McKinnis was simply outstanding tonight. Her rendition of 'He's My Boy' was powerful, haunting and stunned the audience to silence - a truly world class performance. 

Hayley Tamaddon is another performer reprising their role and brings us a confident and perfectly executed take on Miss Hedge - a part which  is integral to the comedic aspect of the story; something Tamaddon thrives on.

Special mention should go to John Partridge for his portrayal Hugo/Loco Chanelle. The part could have been written for him and his command of the stage reminds you of his years of experience. The phrase ‘a safe pair of hands’ could be seen as a psuedo-criticism but for Partridge it’s simply confirmation that, when the challenge is presented, he rises to it ten-fold.

However, for me the star of the show was - and generally always is - Shobna Gulati. Turning into the Mrs Johnstone of Jamie, Gulati played the role in the London production and on tour, reprised it in the big-screen version and is back again for this production. Her talent shines through on stage with beautiful delivery and a classic Northern humour, it’s such a huge asset to the Jamie family that Shobna’s love affair with the story still remains strong.

Without hesitation, I’d happily say Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is exactly what we need in the world right now. An important, poignant piece of theatre with a heart, a message and a stack of humour. Without sounding (too) cliche, this production really is in a place where it belongs and is something the whole country should have in their ‘to see’ list.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie plays at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 14th October. For more information, visit

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